Consumers will be better protected under a proposed law increasing safeguards against defective or unsafe products. The legislation will make it easier and cheaper for people injured by faulty products to sue for compensation. At present, anyone injured by faulty goods can either sue the retailer under contract law or the manufacturer for negligence. But the onus is on the consumer to prove negligence, which can be costly and complicated if expert evidence is required. Consumers, therefore, are often reluctant to sue. Under the new proposal, victims will only have to show they have been injured by the faulty product. Consumers will also be allowed to sue more people responsible for the product, such as manufacturers of components, producers and importers. And the injured person, whether or not he or she is the purchaser, the user or merely a bystander, will be covered by the new form of liability. However, manufacturers will not be held responsible if the defect did not exist, or could not be detected by technical expertise, at the time of supply. Wholesalers and retailers will only be liable if they fail to identify within a reasonable time the supplier of the product. Last year, a Law Reform Commission report said that Hong Kong was lagging behind in consumer protection. It said new laws that raised consumer protection to international standards would prevent Hong Kong from becoming a dumping ground for substandard goods. It is understood that importers fear prices will soar as they will have to pay hefty insurance premiums to guard against possible legal action. It is not known how many people are injured each year by defective or unsafe products. However, the Consumer Council has identified a number of potentially dangerous products. These include various models of fans, electric water heaters and washing machines that might short-circuit, mattresses that can catch fire and a teething toy that could choke or injure children. The watchdog's spokesman, Kenneth So Wai-sang, welcomed the new legislation, saying it would provide another safeguard for consumers. 'It will also provide some deterrent to suppliers,' Mr So said. The Trade and Industry Bureau will brief legislators on the proposal on Monday.